Tight budgets are no excuse to let yourself get flabby. Sure, a pricey gym
membership may be something you don’t want to spring for right now. And home
exercise equipment with all the bells and whistles may be out of the question.
Luckily, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to exercise. Some won’t even cost
you a thin dime.
WebMD turned to three respected exercise experts: Steven Blair, PhD, at the
University of South Carolina, Jennifer Huberty, PhD, at the University of
Nebraska, and Andrea Dunn, PhD, at Klein Buendal in Colorado. Here’s what they
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It may be child’s play, but jumping rope offers an unusually complete
workout. It improves aerobic fitness at the same time that it strengthens legs,
buttocks, arms, and shoulders. No wonder many boxers, wrestlers, and other
athletes use jump ropes to train. Jump ropes are easy to pack. Basic jump rope:
They’re cheap, portable, and can be used to give virtually every muscle in
your body an intense workout. A vigorous workout also burns calories, which can
help with weight loss. A good set of bands starts at about $10. Most come with
a basic set of instructions.
Having trouble motivating yourself to take a brisk walk every day? Studies
show that step counters, or pedometers, help inspire people to be more active.
Many versions are available, from basic ones that simply tally up steps to
fancier models you can hook up to your computer to keep track of your progress
over time. Basic step counter: $20 to $30.
A pair of hand weights -- also known as dumbbells -- offers a great
upper-body strengthening workout. Another option: use everyday weighted objects
you can easily grasp in each hand, such as a water bottle, socks filled with
dried beans or sand, or a bag of rice. Basic hand weights: $15.
If you do yoga at home, you probably already own one. Even if yoga isn’t
your thing, mats still come in handy for doing basic calisthenics such as
sit-ups, push-ups, deep knee bends, and other exercises that use body weight --
and gravity -- to strengthen muscles. Jogging in place or doing jumping jacks
add aerobics to your routine and burn calories. (For example, 10 minutes of
vigorous jumping jacks burns about 100 calories, assuming a body weight of
about 155 pounds.) Yoga mat: $15-$20.
About the size of basketballs, medicine balls are weighted and can be used
to add intensity to a basic set of floor exercises. You can squeeze a medicine
ball between your knees while doing reverse curls to strengthen abdominals, for
example, or hold it above your head while doing lateral flexes to tighten up
oblique muscles. Most come with instructions for a set of basic exercises.
Medicine ball: About $20.